I used to pride myself that I was an excellent sleeper. Yes, it took me awhile to fall asleep at night, but once I was out, I stayed out until morning. Little did I realize how precarious my sleeping rhythm truly was.
Sure, there were the odd sleeplessness occurrences. I distinctly remember three times when I suffered from insomnia. The first time was my first year of college, in my dorm room at the University of Utah. For over a week I couldn't stay asleep once I finally managed to fall asleep. I discussed it with my mom and she did a little research. She called me back awhile later with her findings. Sometimes if one does other things besides sleep in one's bed - like doing homework, reading, watching tv - then your body fails to treat your bed like a place to sleep. I started doing less on my bed (which had been doubling as my couch, especially since it was smack dab in front of my roommate's tv) and soon I started sleeping like myself.
The other two times occurred much later and were only separated from each other by one year. Both times shared something, I was stressed and didn't realize it. Stressed about a decision or more precisely, the direction my life was taking. Both lasted about two weeks and didn't end until I realized the cause and started to do something about it, even just to acknowledge the stress that I hadn't felt but my body had.
These three times were nothing compared to the eye-opening experience of sharing a bed with a man. I swear I didn't sleep well for months! Every time he turned over, I woke up. If he got up to use the bathroom, I was awake by the time he got back into bed. The man thought I was a vampire who never slept because he never saw me asleep. It was at this time that I realized that I wasn't a naturally gifted sleeper, I had just been lucky enough to have the right sleeping conditions for myself for a long time.
Steve taught me the meaning of a true sleep genius. The first time we shared a bed, after we said good-night the guy was asleep in 5 seconds flat. And not just a light slumber. I was able to get out of bed, grab a snack in the kitchen, eat it in bed, and read a little without him so much as change his breathing. I was impressed.
Nope, I am a light sleeper. I mean this in two ways, actually. First of all, I don't sleep soundly at all. Like I said, any movement would wake me up. Same goes for any sound above that of a distant train horn and any light brighter than a dim night light. Steve bought a new alarm clock just for me since at first I didn't have a night stand on my side of the room and was always asking him the time. This new alarm clock could project the time on a wall or even the ceiling. It was pretty handy. And pretty bright. I couldn't sleep with it on, so it had to go.
However, I need light in order to sleep. Looking back on my life, I realize that most of the time, there's always been some outside light source that gently lit up my bedroom (a street lamp, lights from a nearby business, etc.). Steve, having to sometimes work nights and so sleep during the day, likes to have heavy curtains that make the bedroom feel like it's permanently midnight on a starless, moonless night. Turns out, I get night terrors. I'm 35 years old and I get night terrors. If a room doesn't have a teeny bit of light in it, I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat terrified out of my mind over something or other. So, we bought a night light for our bedroom. I'm 35 years old and I have to sleep with a night light. Hence, the other way I'm a light sleeper. On our cruise, the first two nights, I woke up so afraid that I started moving what little furniture existed out of my way so I could get out of the room. We finally started leaving a table lamp on and covering it with multiple towels and jackets (because it couldn't be too bright).
Lately, I can't sleep through the night. I'm finally (after over a year of marriage) getting used to sharing a bed. We have the right amount of light and the temperature is perfect (I decided this post was getting too long to go into my temperature requirements and figure they're pretty standard - not too hot, not too cold). I don't feel overly stressed about what's going on in my life; in fact, I'm quite pleased with my life and some of the changes that have been happening and that are about to happen. However, I can't sleep past 3am without waking up. At first, I had to wake up then to take my next dose of pain killers after my surgery. Now, I wake up having to pee like a race horse. I used to be able to sleep through the night without using the facilities. The worst part is that once I get back in bed, I can't go back to sleep. I know that a huge part of that is the inability to get comfortable. I have to sleep on my back with my head and knees propped up with pillows. If I try to shift to my side, within minutes my stomach muscles throb then become really painful. I'm not used to sleeping on my back nor sleeping without changing positions. And I'm sore. Usually not in pain, thankfully, but almost constantly sore. Tight may be a better description. Like my stomach muscles and skin are being continually stretched. It makes sense, given the procedure of the surgery, but it can wear on me sometimes - usually at 3am.
Fortunately, I know that like the times in the past where a good night's sleep has eluded me, this time will pass. Someday, I'll sleep again. If nothing else, I've learned that I may not be a naturally gifted sleeper genius like Steve, but I do learn how to find my way to sleep eventually.